In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Billy Gene Colston, 84

Billy Colston, 1936-2020

Billy Gene Colston, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel among the East Asian Affinity Peoples in Korea and in other East Asian countries, died Aug. 7, 2020. He was 84.

Colston was born in 1936 to the late Clifton L. and Mozelle Colston in Kosciusko, Mississippi. During his early teens, his family moved to Fayette, Alabama, where he graduated from Fayette County High School. He received the Bachelor of Arts from Howard College (now Samford University), Birmingham, Alabama, and the Bachelor of Divinity from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

Colston married Geraldine Leneva Rutland of Amite, Louisiana, in 1957. He served as pastor of churches in Fayette, Bay Minette and Leighton, Alabama, and in Poplarville, Mississippi.

Colston wrote when seeking missionary appointment that he first felt God calling him to international missions during the Week of Prayer for Foreign Missions at First Baptist Church, Florence, Alabama, while he was a college student. During seminary, he wrote, he and Gerry dedicated themselves to international missions.

The Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) appointed them in 1967 to serve in Korea, where they lived in Seoul.  He worked several years in evangelism. For 15 years, he was director of a program that involved 55 missionaries working cooperatively with Korean Baptists ministering to students, Korean military personnel and local congregations. Included in this program were ministries related to the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. Later, the Colstons worked in other parts of East Asia, serving a total of 34 years.

He is survived by his wife, Gerry, and daughters Robyn and Lydia and their families.

A memorial service was held Aug. 13, 2020, at Dawson Memorial Baptist Church, Birmingham, Alabama, with burial in Jefferson Memorial Gardens, South, in Hoover.

Memorial donations may be made to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, International Mission Board, 3806 Monument Avenue, Richmond, VA 23230, or online at

Read an obituary here.